Tom Brady has officially—and finally, wants to—retire from the National Football League. Based on his new movie “80 For Brady”, it is also time to retire from making movies.
No one comes out with glory from this syrupy, uneven story about four old friends determined to see Brady lead an incredible come-from-behind victory in the 2017 Super Bowl.
A quarter of our best actors – Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno and Sally Field – are sacrificed for cheap laughs and unearned poignancy. And Brady, an executive producer, mourns one of his greatest victories. It’s not that hissing sound you hear in the theater when a football loses air, but a frustrated audience.
Screenwriters Sarah Haskins and Emily Halpern seem to have opened a door into exploring loss, responsibility and regret in our sunset years, but withering badly, instead move into granny-edible territory by accident.
Above that screen is an EGOT winner, multiple Oscar, Tony and Emmy winners, a recipient of the Mark Twain Award for American Humor as well as Kennedy Center trustees and Cecil B. DeMille. But they are completely wasted. At one point a field is reduced to participating in a pointless hot wing eating contest.
There’s nothing wrong with silly buddy movies or celebrating age on screen and it’s a pleasure to see both here. But don’t tell us you’re empowering old people by making them dance The Twist to get past security into the Super Bowl. Add this to the gross misuse of Diane Keaton in last year’s “Mack & Rita” and we’re calling Hollywood for illegal blocks on seniors and a 15 yard loss.
Well, based on true events, the film is so light and clever that it threatens to go away. Mixing tickets leaves a few extra minutes but logic is thrown out, like the time our heroine just finds four empty seats in a row right at kickoff – at the Super Bowl.
Brady is always friendly throughout, whether talking to Tomlin’s character through one of his bobble heads or from TV screens in dialogue only she can hear. “This is going to work out,” he promises.
Each of our leading ladies gets one note to develop: Fonda plays the vain, crazy boy author of erotic fan fiction Rob Gronkowski. Range is the sensible, responsible one. Recently widowed Moreno is up for any adventure and Tomlin is the glue that keeps them together.
When one of the four becomes afraid that cancer will come again, Brady becomes the north star and she asks her body what she should do, like a prayer. “He never gives up no matter what he’s up against,” she says. You expect a bright halo to appear over Brady’s head.
Director Kyle Marvin doesn’t build any real tension as he nervously moves from farce to cringe to melancholy, but real footage of the big game is nicely woven into the second half. The message here is simple: When you’re down, dig deep and go for it. In other words, be confident to go to another movie.
Sometimes the movie is just a branding opportunity, like Microsoft Surface and the NFL Experience theme park. “This is better than my wildest dreams,” one of our august actors has to say as he throws a football. When the next four end up on the way to – into a skybox during the game, one helpfully explains: “You can see everything!” Yes, from up here, you can see terrible writing.
This is a movie that is supposed to encourage old people but it has jokes about fanny packs and Pat Sajak. Co-stars Billy Porter, Sara Gilbert and Guy Fieri are somehow okay in small roles but the main heroines lead the way in what can only be considered a special feature. after school for seniors.
“80 for Brady,” a Paramount Pictures release only in theaters starting Feb. 3, is rated PG-13 for brief strong language, some drug content and some suggestive references. Running time: 98 minutes. Half a star out of four.
MPAA Definition of PG-13: Parents strongly cautioned. Some materials may be unsuitable for children under the age of 13.
Mark Kennedy has http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits